How to Use Instagram Stories to Grow Your Audience: 5 Top Tips

Written by Laura Roeder

On July 20, 2021
use instagram stories

We all love Instagram stories, right? They’re fun, they’re funny, they’re easy and they disappear in 24 hours so there’s no pressure to make them perfect feed-worthy content.

Of course, as Instagram stories become more popular, they’ve become a necessary part of any Instagram strategy. It turns out that having a strong Instagram story strategy is just as important for gaining new followers as having a gorgeous-looking feed.

But like we’ve said before, you can’t just post any old story for your followers to suddenly explode. There are a couple of tricks you should have up your sleeve for how to use Instagram stories.

How to use Instagram stories effectively

Before we get into the meat of how to strategize when it comes to stories, let’s start with a quick recap on how to work Instagram stories and add them to your profile.

From your Instagram news feed, swipe to the right. You will get a screen that looks like this:

how do you use instagram stories

You can then choose if you want to add text, an image, a video, ask your followers a question, run a poll do a quiz or even share a charity link. To write text you simply start writing. To add a photo or video you can swipe up from the bottom and add content from your camera roll.

Then you can get fancy with adding stickers, gifs, locations, tags, and more. Here are some tips for creating outstanding stories!

1. Come up with a plan + stay consistent

If there’s one thing I want you to take away from this article it’s that consistent posting is one of the best things you can do for any social media strategy. You don’t have to post daily but finding a schedule that works for you and sticking to it is important.

With regular posting, your audience will get used to seeing and engaging with your content. Regular posting keeps you at the top of the feed and increases your chance of ranking on the explore page.

Our first tip on how to use ig stories is to create a content plan. This plan will help you stay consistent with your posting. It will help you avoid that dreaded “stuck on what to post” feeling.

You can’t just wait to post when you feel inspired if you’re trying to grow your Instagram audience. If a content plan feels overwhelming, use our favorite social media tactic: creating categories. Choose 3-5 content categories or themes that you can post. Post in one category every day and repeat with that schedule every week. This gives you a good mix of content so your stories don’t feel repetitive.

Looking for to spark some inspiration for your Instagram story plan? Try our Instagram story generator and get an Instagram story prompt in seconds!

2. Leverage story highlights

Instagram stories disappear after 24 hours unless you save them as Instagram Story Highlights. Story highlights act as curated collections of your stories that live on your profile and you can watch anytime.

Story highlights have a prime location at the top of your Instagram profile, right underneath your bio. You can direct new followers to check your story highlights for more information.

Your Instagram profile can act a bit like your business card. Why use Instagram stories highlights? To showcase the best content that defines your brand of course. Did you host a fantastic AMA? Highlight it! Do you share useful tips every Tuesday? Highlight those! You don’t have to highlight every Instagram story you post — and you really shouldn’t — but you should find the ones that most clearly represent who you are as a brand.

Also if you haven’t started any highlights, you might still have the option to use your older stories to create some. Check your Instagram settings, and under Privacy, select Story. If you have selected “Save to Archive,” then you’ll still have access to past Instagram stories and you can go back into your archive to add them to highlights. If you didn’t have your stories set to save, select that now!

3. Use stickers

We’re just going to say it: Instagram stickers are just plain fun! They add personality to your story and they can help you reach new followers. There are 3 stickers in particular that you should use.

Mention Sticker – The mention sticker is how to tag in Instagram stories. The person you tag will be notified and they’ll have the option to repost your story in their own stories. And many users will repost your story as a way to thank you. The Mention Sticker is useful if you’re sharing User-Generated Content or curated content.

Using Instagram stories

Instagram Location Stories – The location sticker allows you to tag a location. This will show your story in the public stories of that location. So if anyone searches for the location on Instagram, they can see your story.

You’ll have different options for the location sticker and if you want to maximize reach and engagement, try to find that perfect fit that’s not too broad but also, not too narrow.

For example, if you’re a small restaurant in Los Angeles, there might not be a lot of searches for your specific restaurant so you might not want to use that location tag. But as Los Angeles is a massive city and your post could get lost in the shuffle, you might want to use the location tag for your specific neighborhood. It may take some experimentation but continue checking your story views as you use different location hashtags to see which one works best.

Hashtag Sticker – We’re big fans of hashtags here at Team Edgar. The Instagram story hashtags work much like they do on other platforms and on Instagram itself.

You can use the hashtag to show up in the public stories of that hashtag. As always be sure to check the stories and posts related to that hashtag.

4. Sneakily use hashtags

You definitely should be using at least one hashtag in your story but adding more can increase your reach and the likelihood that you’ll gain new followers.

The hashtag sticker only allows you to use one hashtag but if you type in your hashtags, you can use up to 10 in your story. And even if you don’t use the hashtag sticker, the hashtag will show up in the public story for that tag. But come on, sometimes squeezing in a bunch of hashtags just looks messy and can ruin the look of your story.

Luckily you can sneakily use hashtags. After you’ve typed out the hashtags you want to use, you can pinch them to make them look smaller. If you’re using a sticker you can even place the sticker on top of the hashtags or change the font color of the hashtags so they blend in with the background. This way, you can use all the hashtags you need without ruining the aesthetics of your story.

(We shared more tips on how to use hashtags for every platform in this post.)

5. Convey your message quickly

One of our age-old rules at MeetEdgar is to have a reason for all of your posts. What is the message you want to get across and what do you want your audience to do with it?

Work backward with your posts. Establish what you want your user to do, what you want them to know, and then figure out how you can share that in a story. If you start with your goals and message, they’ll be clearer from the start.

This is especially important on Instagram stories! You know how quickly you can skip through stories and you’re not the only one. Users move 41% faster on mobile than they do on desktop! Before you hit post on that story, make sure the message is clear.

The truth is, there’s no real hack to winning over followers with Instagram stories. These aren’t instant tricks and you wouldn’t see your followers explode overnight with them. But as we’ve said before, it’s all about consistency. Use these tactics consistently and you’ll start to see your Instagram audience increase.

Get Some Instpiration!

Now you know how to maximize all the options Instagram offers for stories, it’s time to start sharing!

Do you need some creative inspiration? Add a little polish to your Instagram stories! Download 13 free customizable Instagram story templates

free instagram templates

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